Saturday, 8 January 2011

CD Review: Led Zeppelin II, by Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin create one of the earliest metal masterpieces, and just two albums into their career, they produce their punchiest, tightest record.

Led Zeppelin II strikes the perfect balance between the band's blues-infused, emotional core, and the emerging, exciting metal sound that they were helping to invent. The nine song set does not yet wander into experimental long-winded territory -- the longest track here, The Lemon Song, is just over 6 minutes.  The writing and delivery are focused, every note and lyric purposeful.

The contribution of each band member is outstanding.  The interplay between Jimmy Page's soulful, beseeching guitar and Robert Plant's emotionally raw, fully exposed vocals remains Led Zeppelin's core sound. But John Paul Jones and John Bonham also shine on every track. Jones' bass is a defining participant throughout, and Bonham continues to re-invent the role and prominence that shuddering drums can play in metal.

Pretty much all of Led Zeppelin II celebrates and laments love, sex, women, and relationships good and bad, Zeppelin hauling the age-old Blues themes into the modern age of 1960s liberation. Whole Lotta Love kicks-off the album with a threatening and incessant Page riff underpinning Plant's out-there vocals. Heartbreaker features another Page / Plant duel, with a driving bass line pushing the sound forward like a tunnel boring machine. Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) lightens the mood with a faster, unapologetically celebratory melody. All three tracks perfectly capture Zeppelin at their peak, while Lemon Song is not far behind: alternating between slow, fast, and bass-driven jazzy segments, Lemon Song is several songs rolled into one that somehow hangs together as Plant wails about his lemon being squeezed.

The album ends with Ramble On, Moby Dick and Bring It On Home, quality tracks that enrich the Zeppelin's catalogue and salute its depth. Moby Dick in particular reminds us of the era of the glorious drum solo, Zeppelin still managing to surround Bonham's centre-stage moment with another catchy all-metal Page riff.

Led Zeppelin II is one of the gateway albums through which the road of metal passed, and Led Zeppelin built this landmark with the strength to majestically withstand the rigors of time.


Jimmy Page - Guitar
Robert Plant - Vocals
John Paul Jones - Bass
John Bonham - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Whole Lotta Love - 10
2. What Is And What Should Never Be - 7
3. The Lemon Song - 9
4. Thank You - 6
5. Heartbreaker - 10
6. Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) - 10
7. Ramble On - 8
8. Moby Dick - 8
9. Bring It On Home - 8

Average:  8.44

Produced by Jimmy Page. Engineered by Edwin H. Kramer.
Mastered by Barry Diamant.

All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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